Finally opening to visitors on 11 November, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is sure to be a draw card to this fascinating desert city. Baroque Access finds out all about it.
The first museum of its kind in the Arab world, the Louvre Abu Dhabi has taken 10 years for this project to come to fruition, but finally, the UAE capital’s very own Louvre museum will open its doors in November. In 2007, the UAE and France signed a 30-year $1.1 billion agreement to set this mammoth project into motion. Of course, now that it’s completed, French President Emmanuel Macron will apparently attend the ribbon-cutting.
The museum, which is located on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, will boast a permanent collection of over 600 masterpieces spanning from the 3rd Millenium BC right up to the present day. In addition, there are 300 works of art that are on loan for 10 years from top museums in France, including, of course, the Louvre in Paris, as well as the Musée d’Orsay, Versailles and the Centre Georges Pompidou. This represents an unprecedented cultural exchange between France and the UAE, and includes historic Western artworks from the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Paul Gauguin and many more.
Interestingly enough, the collection will not be organized in a chronological order; instead, it will be arranged by themes including the likes of the dawn of globalization.
The building, which was designed by Pritzker Prize-winner, architect Jean Nouvel, was originally scheduled to open in 2012. Its promenade facing the ocean is set under a striking dome created from over 8,000 metal stars set in a geometric pattern. When the sunlight filters through these stars, a mobile ‘rain of light’ is created, inspired by the palm trees in the UAE.
The Louvre is part of the UAE’s ambitious quest to preserve its own culture and become an international cultural center as well. The museum aims to focus on shared human stories across cultures and civilizations.
The complex includes a museum for children, study center, restaurants and shop. Outside, visitors will find installations by various contemporary international artists.
The first area that visitors will find is the ‘Great Vestibule’, which will feature dialogues between works from different places and highlight the similarities between them. Displays will include pieces dating back to early times, from the 3rd Millenium BC as well as other historic artworks.
There is an entire gallery dedicated to universal religions, showcasing various sacred texts such as a Leaf from the Blue Quran, a Gothic Bible, a Pentateuch and texts from Buddhism and Taoism. Ceramic pieces dedicated to exchanges on trading routes during the Medieval and Modern periods are also showcased.
Highlights of the masterpieces on loan from 13 leading French museums include Leonardo da Vinci's ‘La Belle Ferronnière’ (1452-1519, on loan from musée du Louvre); a self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890, from musée d'Orsay et de l'Orangerie); Jean d’Aire by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917, from the group the Burghers of Calais on loan from Musée Rodin) and Alberto Giacometti’s ‘Standing Woman II’ (1901-1966, from Centre Pompidou.
The inaugural exhibition, entitled ‘From One Louvre to Another: Opening a Museum for Everyone’, will trace the history of the Louvre in Paris. It opens on 21 December.
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